In that opening half Les Blues were simply awesome and Ireland never managed to get to grips with them. Afterwards a very emotional captain Keith Wood, admitted as much.
"I don't know, we just didn't play in the first half it's very disappointing. But I think we can hold our heads up, we tried very hard in the second half. We tried our damndest out there, it just didn't come off. Our first half let us down. It was probably the worst we've played in the tournament. It was almost an impossible task after that but we did try, we put everything into it."
And to their credit they came back from bad start to the second half when they conceded a penalty almost from the kick-off. With tv commentators talking of record scores Ireland managed to halt the rot with a good try from Kevin Maggs try and if by this stage the French were already looking forward to a meeting with England or Wales, at least Ireland kept them honest and played the sort of rugby they would have planned for the opening half. The game ended with a second try for Brian O'Driscoll, a player whose performance confirmed him as one of the best in his position in the world game.
The French went in front within five minutes when Olivier Magne crossed following a good cross-field kick from Frederic Michalak who duly added the points. It then needed a marvellous Brian O'Driscoll cover tackle on Tony Marsh to prevent a second try before Michalak increased their lead with a penalty.
In that opening quarter Ireland's only venture into French territory was courtesy of two Ronan O'Gara touch finds and both of those throws were comfortably taken by the French.
But as they'd done against the Aussie last week, Ireland clung on grimly until the French broke clear when under pressure and Christophe Dominici raced clear for the try. Michalak added the points and the French were 17 points clear. Two minutes later they went further ahead when Imanol Harinordoquy scored a third try, Michalak knocked over the conversion from out wide and then added a 37th minute penalty to leave France 27 points up at half-time.
They scored first in the second half when Michalak kicked a penalty after Ireland were penalised in the scrum and their fourth try came from Jean-Jacques Crenca in the 47th minute, Michalak again converting from the touchline.
David Humphreys replaced O'Gara after that try and then Ireland registered their first score when Kevin Maggs<</b> carved an opening from nothing to score to the right of the posts. Humphreys clipped over the conversion to offer a glimmer of hope.
With Marcus Horan on for Reggie Corrigan the Irish scrum settled and Victor Costello was stopped just short of the line. From the resultant play Ireland were awarded a penalty but opted for a scrum, turned over ball, conceded a penalty at the other end Michalak kicked his fifth penalty.
Ireland scored their second try just after Raphael Ibanez was yellow-carded and Humphreys threaded through a delightful ball for Brian O'Driscoll to score his second RWC try and in the final movement of the game O'Driscoll scored a last gasp try to give the final scoreline (43-21) something of a respectable aspect.